This coincides with the recent announcement of the completion of the first draft identification of the Human Genome.
The Minister of Research, Science and Technology the Hon Pete Hodgson today officially opened New Zealand's first genome research facility at the University of Otago in Dunedin.
The $1.8 million Otago Genomic Facility will accelerate research into human, animal and plant genes and places the University at the leading edge of international genomic research.
The Hon Pete Hodgson said: "The initial sequencing of the human genome recently achieved by researchers in the US and Britain, will produce an explosion in genomic research.
"The University of Otago, with its new research capability and its record of successful genetic research, is positioned to become a key player in expanding the genomic frontiers."
"The new facility is a visionary investment that builds on the University of Otago's existing strengths and ensures that New Zealand scientists will be in the forefront of genomic research into human animal, plant and microbial systems."
University of Otago Vice-Chancellor Dr Graeme Fogelberg said that the new Otago Genomic Facility is an important strategic investment for the University.
"The state-of-the-art technology will allow our research teams to expand their research in the fields of biomedicine, agriculture and horticulture.
"There is also considerable potential for the commercial application of genomic research and University looks forward to developing new partnerships with the private sector."
Director of the University of Otago's Functional Genomics, Gene Expression and Proteomics Theme, Professor WarrenTate, said " The new facility incorporates the most advanced technology from the US and Canada. The facility was planned only after an extensive review by Professor Tony Reeve of leading overseas research facilities, particularly at the National Institute of Health in the USA."
Central to the Otago Genomic Facility is the micro array unit - a robot - which allows high speed print spotting of human genes for analysis.
The micro array unit will allow Otago researchers to analyse 64, 000 genes at one time - a huge advance on the pace of previous research which was limited to analysis of one gene a time.
Other key equipment includes a laser scanner, robotics equipment and equipment for processing the DNA chips.
Director of the University's new facility, Professor Tony Reeve, says: "These are exciting times. There is a huge amount of work to be done now that the first human genome draft is completed. It is gratifying that the University is now equipped to become active player."
"The new equipment will accelerate, work on existing research projects and open up tantalising new areas for study."
"Our first project in cancer research is scheduled to start in October. We have a further 18 projects on the books in the fields of animal virology, animal growth, cancer gene function and plant development.